In this series, we take a closer look at some of Gold Coast’s favourite heritage-listed areas.
As the mercury drops, we venture deeper into the cooler climes of the Gold Coast hinterland. Traversing into the ‘green behind the gold’ has never been a mean feat and still presents challenges today.
Contemporary visitors to Springbrook have different motivations to the explorers of the past. Timbergetters’ bullock teams cut the first scars into this ancient rainforest to retrieve valuable “red gold” or Red Cedar (Toona ciliata) in the 1910s. We follow those same tracks to appreciate spectacular vistas and rich environmental biodiversity of this World Heritage Area.
Springbrook Road and its infrastructure traverses waterways and the steep crumbling terrain of the volcanic caldera. Local and state heritage listings note technological aspects and its economic role. Building the road presented phenomenal challenges that still exist in its maintenance today.
Starting at the base of Springbrook Road, the first natural hurdle for colonial settlers was the site of Old Mudgeeraba Creek Bridge. Local residents would use the old ‘Dip Crossing’ but flooding would make it impassable. A timber bridge was built in 1936 to alleviate these difficulties. This opened up the route of Mudgeeraba-Springbrook Road. Explore Laver Park to find the humble remnants of the bridge. You can also find the remains of two Persimmon (Diospyros kaki) trees planted over a century ago by pioneer, William Laver.
During The Depression of the 1930s, many Queenslanders lost their jobs and homes. Queensland was rich in natural resources in undeveloped land. The government aimed to resolve economic and social woes by taking on major infrastructure projects. In exchange for social housing at the Upper Mudgeeraba Intermittent Relief Camp, tenants continued the construction of Springbrook Rd to open an inaccessible 7000 acres. In addition to road construction, successful applicants were granted land lots for banana farming.
As Springbrook Road steeply inclines and winds into ancient Gondwanaland, glimpse previews of stunning natural drawcards. The enormity of the road’s construction becomes apparent. Heritage listed hand-built timber bridges – a small one over Little Nerang Creek and two that curve further along – demonstrate engineering skills and plain ‘hard yakka’ of their time.
Wunburra Info Centre offers maps and advice to visitors. Take a look back down from the mountain to the shimmering city of Gold Coast at Wunburra Lookout.
Purling Brook Falls puts on a formidable display. There are walking trails of various distances. An old Queensland Forest Service sign displays indigenous names and meanings.
In the township, Springbrook Community Hall (built 1947), is adorned with a large rainforest-themed mural.
Best of All Lookout is at the peak of the area. A lush walking trail bursts with twisting vines, gnarled trees and curious boulders. Listed with the National Trust of Australia, 2000 year-old Antarctic Beech (Nothofagus moorei) here play host to micro ecosystems of moss and ferns. The namesake of the lookout is no exaggeration.
My final stop is The Canyon Lookout. Here stands a plaque dedicated to the service (1919-1953) of the Forestry Department Secretary, Clarence Trist. It reads:
“His ideal was to preserve as nearly as possible in their primeval condition some fragments of the original Australia and to keep them unspoilt and untouched not only for our environment but for that of our children for all time”
Springbrook National Park facilities give visitors fantastic insight to our world class heritage. Pack a picnic and take warm clothes. Stop and admire the different elements of the Springbrook Rd heritage trail. Tread lightly and enjoy what those before have left for us.
Download the MyRanger app to get maps and guided tours with local (virtual) Rangers. You can plan ahead or, if internet service allows in some spots, find places and things to do from your current location.